Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: May 31, 2019

Professionals should always carry themselves in a manner that is never harmful to those they work with. The failure to maintain a proper attitude towards workmates can affect someone’s work and have a rippling effect on the output of your company as a whole. Sexual harassment is one of the many untoward actions that can happen in the workplace.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is an unpleasant situation to deal with. A lot of people criticize those who fire back at sexual harassment claims, saying these are overreactions and are being blown out of proportion. What these people do not realize is that there are grave effects on victims of sexual harassment. Studies have shown that victims of sexual harassment have difficulty sleeping, eating, and readjusting to his or her workplace. Other adverse effects include loss of focus when working, reduced socializing, participating less in group meetings, and quitting one’s job.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment refers to any form of unwelcomed sexual behavior that offends, humiliates, or intimidates the victim. These devious acts done without one’s consent can either be verbal or physical and can significantly affect one’s working condition and may create a hostile work environment. From seemingly harmless banter with sexual undertones to aggressive compliments or sudden curiosity on one’s sex life, these actions can be considered as sexual harassment.

Victims of sexual harassment often blame themselves for being involved. Most women never even speak up in fear of retaliation as 75% percent of victims who report sexual harassment experience retaliation. If you or a co-worker experience any form of sexual harassment in the workplace, do not hesitate to speak up and consult with your HR department regarding the incident.

Here are a few examples of the main forms of sexual harassment that you may encounter in a workplace environment:

Verbal Sexual Harassment

Saying unwelcome comments or statements towards a colleague can be considered as harassment. Commenting on one’s clothing, personal behavior, private relationships, and body are all things that can constitute verbal sexual harassment. Some people may also go as far as spreading rumors about a person’s private life. This type of sexual harassment is one of those instances that may happen more often in your workplace. Most offenders may also pass these incidents off as playful banter among colleagues and deem them as regular occurrences at work.

Physical Sexual Harassment

This kind of harassment is more than just one colleague touching another without his or her content. Physical sexual harassment also includes impeding another person’s path, deliberately brushing oneself towards their body or going for hugs, kisses, or stroking, which can make the other person uncomfortable if these actions are unwanted. Being touched by someone you aren’t comfortable with in a professional environment can bother a lot of individuals and may result in a hostile work environment.

Nonverbal Sexual Harassment

Nonverbal sexual harassment actions are harder to prove compared to the previous examples. Subtle actions like maliciously looking at a person’s body from head to toe can qualify as harassment. These actions can also include making sexually suggestive facial expressions or following a person around after work or during lunch breaks. These nonverbal forms of harassment can greatly disturb an individual and may make them feel uncomfortable at work and lessen their productivity.

The examples mentioned above can become a guide for what actions qualify as sexual harassment. The law does not prohibit teasing, isolated offhand comments, and not-so-serious incidents that happened only once. To put things into perspective, rape or stalking will constitute as sexual harassment while less discrete actions that are sexually suggestive are up for debate. The same can be said about less severe, but pervasive actions such as multiple indecent remarks over a specific period of time or repeated inappropriate stares despite the victim giving numerous verbal warnings. Keep in mind the words ‘severe” and ‘pervasive’ when it comes to determining what counts as sexual harassment regardless of their form.

Raising Awareness on Sexual Harassment Incidents & Claims

Thanks to the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment victims are speaking out and mainstream society are now paying more attention and taking their claims seriously. This movement showed the world that even the wealthiest, most famous individuals are not exempt from this kind of horrible treatment. People are learning more about what specific behaviors are acceptable in a workplace setting, keeping it a safe space for all workers, as well as the laws that exist to punish those who do these untoward acts. It is also important to note that these situations can happen not only to women but also to men. Sexual harassment can affect anyone regardless of their sex or gender, which is why it is crucial to speak up and report these incidents and prevent them from happening to others.

Employ Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyers Today

If your sexual harassment complaint is not taken seriously by your HR or those involved, seek legal assistance from the seasoned sexual harassment lawyers of Mesriani Law Group to help you with your claims. We offer a No Win No Fee agreement to guarantee you the best service while pushing your claims towards acquiring the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact our Los Angeles law firm and avail of a free consultation from our roster of experienced and competent lawyers today.